I was disappointed to read Senator Tim Scott’s January 11, 2019 Washington Post op-ed titled “Why are Republicans accused of racism? Because we’re silent on things like this.” Just ten days earlier, Scott’s fellow Senator, Mitt Romney, attacked President Trump in the pages of that same newspaper, which should be a hint that any piece by a Republican that the Washington Post publishes can do no good. I would urge the Senator to avoid that particular news outlet in the future, until it is consigned to the “darkness” mentioned on its masthead.
I support Representative Steve King of Iowa, and am thankful that he recently campaigned in South Carolina’s Fourth Congressional District on behalf of Lee Bright. Representative King’s views are routinely exaggerated and distorted by the mainstream media. I have never seen a quote from Representative King that could be characterized as “hateful and intolerant,” to borrow a phrase from Scott’s op-ed piece.
Scott’s piece suggests that the terms “white nationalist” and “white supremacist” need not be defined as these constitute “common knowledge.” That is exactly the problem–these terms do not have stable definitions and are used by the mainstream media and the Left as a means of smearing conservatives and closing off debate. This is precisely why the state legislature of Tennessee, for example, was unable to pass House Joint Resolution 583 in 2018, aimed at “denouncing white nationalist and neo-Nazi groups.” HJR 583 did not include a definition of “white nationalism,” instead taking the term for granted, because it is legally impossible to craft one in such a way as to avoid vagueness. Any such definition would be quickly expanded to encompass anyone holding views to the Right of Noam Chomsky’s pot dealer.
What exactly is a “white nationalist?” Is it a person who happens to be white and believes in the concept of the nation-state established by the Peace of Westphalia in 1648? If that is the case, then most conservatives are “white nationalists” by virtue of the fact that whites constitute a demographic majority of the United States and that conservatives believe in maintaining the sovereignty and independence of the United States of America.
As for “white supremacism,” I have not encountered anyone who says that whites are “better than” any other race. It would certainly be difficult to find a universal standard with which to make such claims and comparisons. The same goes for individuals too–everyone is different and has their various talents–but it is impossible to say that a particular individual is better or worse than another without some sort of context or specific application (e.g. better at fixing cars, better at public speaking, and so on). If “supremacism” is taken to mean “ruling over,” I likewise have not seen anyone suggest that whites should “rule over” or otherwise mistreat those of other races. Representative King has not advocated for any legislation, to my knowledge, aimed at encouraging any type of exploitation along racial lines.
After dodging the issue of defining “white nationalism,” Scott’s op-ed then cites several acts of violence as examples. Discussing violence in this context is disingenuous because nowhere has Representative King ever endorsed the use of violence to achieve political goals. Indeed, the vast majority of people who occupy the area of the political spectrum characterized as the “Alt Right” (although not everyone embraces that label) explicitly reject calls to violence. I hold a Master’s degree in political science and am familiar with the literature of “radical” groups and ideologies both on the Left and the Right in the United States going back a number of decades. There is an axiom I have often seen quoted in “Alt Right” literature that I have come across which states that if anyone talks about violence, it may be a sign that they are either mentally ill or a member of law enforcement engaging in entrapment. To be fair, I have noticed that many groups on the Left also run into this same issue and similarly advise their members to condemn any talk of violence and to stay away from anyone who engages in such discussion.
Instead of mind-reading in an attempt to determine who is a “racist,” I prefer the simple test proposed by the late paleolibertarian political philosopher Murray Rothbard. Rothbard advocated asking the question: “Does this person advocate the use of the power of the government to take away the life (or harm the physical body), liberty (as in the Blackstonian rights to freedom of speech, and the like), or property of an individual on the basis of their race?” Using that test, I conclude that Representative King is not a “racist,” since he has never advocated the use of governmental power to harm individuals in this manner.
Given the above, would Scott be willing to issue a clarification, either to the Washington Post or perhaps via Twitter, stating that his op-ed was not intended to suggest that 1) Representative King advocates the use of violence or 2) Representative King supports the use of governmental power to abridge the rights of individuals to life, liberty, and property on the basis of their race? Representative King deserves better than to have his fellow Republicans assist the mainstream media and the Left in conducting witch hunts against him.